October 30, 2003
Tiffany & Co. Opens Cutting Facility in Canada
Tiffany & Co.'s Laurelton Diamonds, a wholly owned subsidiary cutting and polishing center for diamonds, was inaugurated at Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, today. The Laurelton facility takes up 12,000 square feet, features state-of-the- art equipment and is designed to house up to 75 employees. As of today, six diamond cutters are already at work.
"Laurelton Diamonds is an important link in the chain of supply that gives us more control over the sourcing of our diamonds," says Michael J. Kowalski, Tiffany & Co.'s chairman. The development of the cutting facility follows Tiffany's 1999 purchase of a 14.7% equity (valued at $71 million) in Aber Diamond Corp., a diamond mining company based in Canada. At the time, Tiffany also entered into an agreement with Aber to purchase a minimum of $50 million in diamonds annually for ten years.
Tiffany says it is the first retailer to enter into such an agreement to source rough stones directly from a mine. In addition to establishing a direct supply of high quality rough diamonds, the Diavik mine meets Tiffany's standards for securing materials in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
The first diamonds mined under the contract were delivered in March 2003, with the rough sent to Tiffany's new sorting center in Antwerp, which subsequently sent some of the rough to the Northwest Territories to be polished at the Laurelton facility.
Kowalski stresses the positive difference Tiffany aims to make in the local community at Yellowknife. He announced a $25,000 contribution to Yellowknife's Stanton Territorial Hospital. "Wherever Tiffany is welcomed into a new community we make every effort to support the local institutions and organizations that serve the needs of the community," he says.
"This new facility helps achieve our stated objective of providing meaningful economic opportunities to the local community and establishing closer ties to our Canadian partners," says Kowalski. Tiffany is giving design and financial support to several companies representing the Inuit and Dogrib, indigenous peoples of the Northwest Territories. The local companies hope to develop a Northern Canada-inspired jewelry collection and related manufacturing and merchandising operations.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.